Ottawa (11 May 2006) - A new poll commissioned by the 340,000-member National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) indicates that Prime Minister Stephen Harper is out of sync with the views of a strong majority of Canadians on the best approach to lowering the country's crime rate.
By a wide margin, Canadians say the best way to reduce crime is to attack its root causes through better education, social programs and job training. A total of 62% of respondents say focusing on the social and economic problems that breed crime is a better approach than building more prisons and hiring more police and judges (23%). In Quebec, 68% of respondents agree this is the best approach to lowering the crime rate (vs. 17%).
The NUPGE-sponsored national poll comes as MPs prepare to debate new legislative measures introduced by the Harper Conservatives to impose mandatory minimum jail sentences for certain crimes and to eliminate conditional sentences for a long list of crimes.
The government has acknowledged that more prisons will be required as the number of inmates rise in response to the new anti-crime program. The government has also committed $161 million in new spending to hire 1,000 new RCMP officers and federal prosecutors.
"Contrary to the government's approach, more prisons, police and prosecutors are not the solutions most Canadians prefer," says James Clancy, NUPGE national president. "The majority of Canadians simply don't share the Harper government's lock-em-up mentality."
"The Conservative plan would be more in tune with Canadians' views if it focused more on crime prevention coupled with more investment in staffing levels, training, and programs in provincial jails and communities," says Clancy.
The national poll was conducted by Vector Research + Development Inc. from April 20-25, 2006. The margin of error for the poll is ±4.3 percentage points, in 19 cases out of 20 (or 95% of all samples).
NUPGE is Canada's second largest union, with 340,000 members providing public services in communities across Canada, including criminal justice, health care, child care, education and more.